Saturday, June 28, 1980

Joy Division charted with “Love Will Tear Us Apart”

First posted 6/28/2011; updated 4/20/2020.

Love Will Tear Us Apart

Joy Divison

Writer(s): Ian Curtis (see lyrics here)

First Charted: June 28, 1980

Peak: 8 CL, 1 CO, 13 UK, 26 AU (Click for codes to singles charts.)

Sales (in millions): -- US, 0.6 UK, 0.6 world (includes US + UK)

Airplay/Streaming (in millions): -- radio, 46.5 video, -- streaming


About the Song:

Joy Division was a band built on irony and contradiction. Despite the happy sound of their moniker, they specialized in music that was “gothic, dark and brooding.” AL In addition, their name, taken from the novel House of Dolls, referenced Nazi concentration-camp prostitutes. Despite the built-in controversy of such a name, the group failed to gain widespread publicity. Then again, as darlings of the British indie scene, commercial success would threaten their cred.

Nonetheless, lead singer Ian Curtis was reportedly devastated when “Love Will Tear Us Apart” failed to nick the UK pop charts, although it did top the independent charts. HL True to the band’s disparate nature, it was “most definitely a pop single, albeit a rather dark, forlorn” TB one which was “clearly the work of a troubled soul.” BBC In Telegraph, Neil McCormick described it as “romantic fear and self-loathing wrapped up in a post-punk torch song.” MC

Released in April 1980, it emerged during a rocky time for the band. Curtis, who suffered from epilepsy, was experiencing deteriorating health which forced numerous cancellations of European tour dates HL and threatened to destroy the band. RS500

Right before the group was headed to America for a tour, Curtis hung himself. Amidst stories of the singer’s failed relationships with his wife and a lover, the song’s already fragile and desperate tone took on even greater poignancy. AL A re-release of “Love Will Tear Us Apart” in a “tombstone-style sleeve” AL shamelessly capitalized on the press devoted to the dead rock star. Now the song reached #13 on the UK charts.

The remaining members retired the name Joy Division and continued as New Order. However, “Love” would not go away. It recharted twice in the UK – in 1983 and in 1995 – both times reaching #19.

Resources and Related Links:

  • Joy Division’s DMDB Encyclopedia entry
  • BBC BBC Music (2005). Sold on Song
  • HL Michael Heatley and Spencer Leigh. (1998). Behind the Song: The Stories of 100 Great Pop & Rock Classics. London, England: Blandford Books. Page 33.
  • AL Alan Lewens (2001). Popular Song – Soundtrack of the Century. Billboard Books: New York, NY. Page 150.
  • MC Neil McCormack (3/13/09). “100 Greatest Songs of All Time
  • RS500 Rolling Stone (12/04). “The 500 Greatest Songs of All Time
  • TB Thunder Bay Press. (2006). Singles: Six Decades of Hot Hits & Classic Cuts. Outline Press Ltd.: San Diego, CA. Page 180.

Monday, June 23, 1980

Pink Floyd released “Comfortably Numb”

Updated 1/21/2019.

image from

Comfortably Numb

Pink Floyd

Writer(s): David Gilmour, Roger Waters (see lyrics here)

Released: 6/23/1980

First Charted: 12/3/1988

Peak: 24 AR (Click for codes to singles charts.)

Sales *: -- US, -- UK, -- world (includes US + UK)

Radio Airplay *: --

Video Airplay *: 216.9

Streaming *: --

* in millions


Pink Floyd bassist and songwriter Roger Waters was suffering from hepatitis before a 1977 show at the Spectrum in Philadelphia. SF A “sleazy Philadelphia doctor” RS500 gave him a sedative for the pain, thinking it was a stomach disorder. “That was the longest two hours of my life,” Waters said. “Trying to do a show when you can hardly lift your arm.” RS500 Even though he couldn’t focus, fans were so busy screaming that they didn’t care. Pink Floyd’s subsequent album, The Wall, (which featured “Comfortably Numb”) explored the theme of alienation between the band and its audience. SF

The experience shaped the song “Comfortably Numb,” which also incorporated an experience he had as a child when he was sick with a fever. As an adult, Waters would get that feeling again on occasion and enter a state of delirium when he would feel detatched from reality. SF He said the lines, “When I was a child, I had a fever/ My hands felt just like two balloons,” were autobiographical.

Guitarist David Gilmour crafted the music while he working on a solo album in 1978. Gilmour’s second guitar solo in the song has often appeared in polls of all-time best guitar solos, even topping the list of a 2006 list by TV music channel Planet Rock. SF He and Waters argued over two versions of the song, finally compromising by editing two takes together. SF Gilmour said the song was made up of the dark (represented by lines like “Hello, is there anybody in there” sung by Waters) and light (lines like “When I was a child…” sung by Gilmour). SF It was the last song the two wrote together SF and the last song ever performed by Waters, Gilmour, and bandmates Richard Wright (keyboardist) and Nick Mason (drummer). WK

In the movie The Wall, “Comfortably Numb” accompanies a scene in which the rock star Pink goes into a catatonic state before a show and is drugged up to get through. It recalled the experience the band had when original member Syd Barrett was kicked out of the band in 1968 after becoming mentally ill. SF

Resources and Related Links:

Note: Footnotes (raised letter codes) refer to sources frequently cited on the blog. Numbers following the letter code indicate page numbers. If the raised letter code is a link, it will go directly to the correct page instead of the home page of a website. You can find the sources and corresponding footnotes on the “Lists” page in the “Song Resources” section.